Poll shows 74 percent support for Amendment 2

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Amendment 2 is supported by 74 percent of Florida voters, according to a poll by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research.

The phone survey of 800 likely voters, was conducted October 17-20. The margin of error is 3.59 percnet.

“Despite the No on 2 campaign spending millions of dollars in advertising, Amendment 2 support is still holding strong,” said Kevin Akins, pollster for Anzalone Liszt Grove. “Voters across racial, gender, and geographic divides support the Amendment 2 ballot language by a winning margin”

Akins said support for the medical marijuana measure is 13 points higher than in 2014, when the amendment narrowly lost.

The poll is the latest to show Amendment 2 is likely to pass Nov. 8.

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Florida tops nation in job growth — but what happened to Texas?

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Texas Gov. Rick Perry in West Palm Beach in 2013. Photo by Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post
Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Texas Gov. Rick Perry in West Palm Beach in 2013. Photo by Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post

Florida continues to lead the nation in job growth. The 3.4 percent jump in Florida jobs was tops among large states, beating California’s 2.3 percent, New York’s 1.1 percent and Illinois’ 0.7 percent, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Florida continues its drubbing of Texas, which not so long ago led the nation in job growth. Texas posted a middling job growth rate of 1.7 percent from September 2015 to September 2016, trailing even Michigan’s 2 percent.

Only three years ago, Rick Perry visited West Palm Beach to take a job-creation victory lap. Perry was still governor of Texas, which was a job-creation machine at the time, and he and Florida Gov. Rick Scott shared a stage to discuss the miracles of low taxes and loose regulation as an economic engine.

Perry didn’t mention the most obvious reasons for the Texas-sized job growth: The Lone Star State didn’t experience a housing bubble, and it was the beneficiary of an energy boom. Once that cycle ran its course, Texas gave up its pole position as the nation’s job engine.

“Texas helped lead the U.S. out of recession, thanks in part to the shale drilling revolution,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “But after more than two years of slumping oil prices, the state is now a sore spot for the national economy.”

Builder plans townhouses in Royal Palm Beach

Royal Palm Beach property slated for 93 townhouses. Photo courtesy CREC.
Royal Palm Beach property slated for 93 townhouses. Photo courtesy CREC.

Nearly 100 townhouses could be built on a vacant lot near State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach.

Miami builder Luxcom paid $4.7 million for the 13-acre site at 9919 Pioneer Road. The property is approved for 93 units, according to Peter Mekras, the broker who handled the sale of the property.

No word on how much townhouses will cost or when construction will start, but LuxCom last month took out an $11.7 million construction loan on the property.

Three things to know about Palm Beach County real estate market

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Prices hold steady. The median price of a single-family house sold in September was $316,000, up slightly from $315,000 in August and up 10.9 percent from a year ago, the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches said Thursday.

It’s still a seller’s market. The typical house sold for 95 percent of asking price in September, down from 95.1 percent a year ago. The inventory of houses for sale rose to 7,056, up 9 percent from a year ago.

For condos, cash is king. Fully 58 percent of condos and townhouses sold last month went to buyers who didn’t need a mortgage.

In Palm Beach County, buying beats renting by a wide margin, Trulia finds

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

For Palm Beach County renters, Trulia chief economist Ralph McLaughlin has some simple advice: Buy a house now.

Palm Beach County ranks No. 2 on Trulia’s list of cities where buying beats renting. We’re in a virtual tie with Miami-Dade County.

Nationally, for owners who move every seven years and can afford to put 20 percent down, it’s 37.7 percent cheaper to buy this year. In Palm Beach County, it’s 53.2 percent cheaper to own.

The arithmetic gets complicated, but here’s one way to look at it: Say you buy a $250,000 house with $50,000 down and take out a $200,000 mortgage with a fixed rate of 4 percent for 30 years. Your monthly payment is $955. Add $500 a month for insurance and taxes, and your tab is $1,455, for a seven-year total of $122,220.

Or you could rent a place for $1,950 a month. Assuming rents stay the same (an unlikely scenario), your seven-year total would sum up to $163,800.

Scripps’ new partnership with nonprofit aims to speed drug development

Scripps Florida labs in Jupiter (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)
Scripps Florida labs in Jupiter (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

The Scripps Research Institute and the California Institute for Biomedical Research on Thursday announced a “strategic affiliation” that they said will help turn Scripps’ scientific discoveries into marketable medicines.

The two nonprofits are based in San Diego. No money changed hands as part of the arrangement, Scripps officials said. Peter Schultz is president of both organizations.

The new approach aims to let Scripps keep control of promising drugs longer in the development process, and therefore allow Scripps to reap more of the profits. The strategy is different from how Scripps has operated in the past. For instance, Scripps discovered Humira, the oft-advertised treatment for arthritis and Crohn’s disease, but no longer receives payments for that drug.

“Ultimately, I believe this ‘bench-to-bedside’ model has the potential to become self-sustaining, with the value we create being reinvested back into research, education and additional clinical studies,” Schultz said in a statement.

The idea is that Scripps is good at basic research but doesn’t specialize in turning its discoveries into commercially viable products.

The Scripps Research Institute reported revenue of $379.7 million in 2014. The California Institute for Biomedical Research posted revenue of $18.4 million.

Two WPB apartments to get multi-million dollar upgrades

Arium apartments in West Palm Beach
Arium apartments in West Palm Beach

An Atlanta-based company that turns around old apartments has swooped into West Palm Beach and purchased  two apartment complexes, with plans to spend a whopping $20 million renovating them.

Cortland Partners, an investment and management firm, purchased 396-unit Arium Palm Cove and 416-unit Arium at Laguna Lakes.

Cortland plans to combine the apartment complexes into one community to be called Portofino Place, in a bid to make the properties operate more efficiently. The apartment communities are north of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, to the west of Interstate 95.

The purchase closed on Oct. 14. Terms were not disclosed. The seller was Carroll Communities, which bought the apartment complexes just last year for $112 million.

A top Cortland executive said the purchase price was a premium over the previous $112 million sale, but still was less money than new construction would have cost.

John Builder of Cortland Partners
John Builder of Cortland Partners

 

As a result, Cortland will be able to rehab the apartments and make them as luxurious — or better — than new apartment complexes coming onto the market, said John Builder, Cortland director of investments for Florida.

Cortland’s move could signal a shift away from developers seeking to build new apartments, and instead indicate that some real estate players think it might be cheaper to buy old ones and fix them up.

After all, construction costs are going up and bankers are demanding stricter lending terms, according to a recent real estate forum featuring the region’s top apartment builders.

During the next two years, Cortland will take units as they are vacated by tenants and completely redo them. Kitchens will receive 42-inch cabinets, granite countertops, tile backsplashes and stainless steel appliances. Bathrooms will receive new plumbing and lighting.

A Laguna Lakes pool will be rebuilt because it is too small.

When the upgrades are completed, Builder expects rental rates will rise to between $230 to $250 a unit. Online rents now range from about $1,200 to $2,000 for one to three-bedroom apartments at Arium Palm Cove, according to apartments.com.

Although some apartment developers are starting to be wonder if rental rates can go much higher, Builder said Cortland is thinking of long-term housing trends. And those trends shows increasing apartment dwelling, Builder said.

A major reason: Young people in their 20s are putting off buying homes until they are well into their 30s.

“They’re more tied to a career than what they perceive as a financial anchor,” Builder said.

Cortland thinks Palm Beach County shows positive signs for continued job growth, a positive trend for apartment owners.

Cortland has been impressed by deals such as  UTC’s decision to build the Center for Intelligent Buildings in Palm Beach Gardens. The center, which will showcase UTC products and brands, is expected to create hundreds of new jobs.

Builder said Cortland has been eager to enter the Palm Beach County market, and this was a strong first deal.

“We needed a tent pole in Southeast Florida, and 812 units is a great way to have a tent pole,” Builder said. “It’s not going to be our last (deal) either. We’re bullish on the area over the long-term.”

Cortland owns 35,000 apartment units throughout seven states, mostly in the Southeast U.S. and also Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida Democrats give $200,000 to pro-pot push

Cannabis at a dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Photo by Jeff Ostrowski/The Palm Beach Post
Cannabis at a dispensary in Oakland, Calif. Photo by Jeff Ostrowski/The Palm Beach Post

In a measure of just how quickly medical marijuana has gone mainstream, the Florida Democratic Party has given $200,000 to People United for Medical Marijuana, the group pushing for passage of Amendment 2.

The Dems in 2014 officially supported Amendment 2, but this month’s contribution represents the party’s first financial support, said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for People United. The party wrote checks in late September and early October, according to state records.

Opponents of Amendment 2 include the Florida Medical Association, the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association. Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a noted supporter of GOP candidates and causes, has spent $1.5 million to fight Amendment 2 this year.

The move to broaden Florida’s state-regulated cannabis industry enjoys widespread support from the state’s Democrats. Orlando attorney John Morgan, the biggest financial backer of Amendment 2, is a donor to Democrats.

And Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, a co-sponsor of the bill that created the state’s Charlotte’s Web industry, says Florida could become a leader in medical marijuana.

“Why can’t we have a Research Triangle devoted just to this?” Edwards asked Monday.

What you had to say on aggressive driving crackdown in Florida

(Palm Beach Post staff file photo)
(Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

Wow. Our readers certainly had a lot to say about aggressive driving.

Florida Highway Patrol is cracking down on unruly drivers in its latest enforcement campaign — called Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks, or TACT — which runs through Oct. 20.

This comes just months after the U.S. government announced a record surge in fatal crashes last year, including an increase in deadly wrecks involving large trucks.

For drivers of passenger vehicles, there’s a lot to know about interacting on the roads with tractor-trailers. You can read the full article here.

We posted the story on our Facebook page, and our readers responded in droves.

Here are some of the comments on the post:

Samantha said, “I’ve recently relocated from NJ. I have never seen driving quite like the way it’s done down here. I sometimes wonder if we all took the same driver’s exam. The speeding, tailgating and passing on the right drive me bonkers! I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands each time I have to drive on 95. The cell phone laws need to change here, as well. It’s horrendous! From little old ladies to kids with a fresh new license. Someone is almost always with a phone to their ear.”

Ali said, “Good, I can’t stand when everyone is going the speed limit and the guy behind me is so close to my rear like I can go any faster with people in front of me. Makes me so mad, especially cuz I have my kids in the car with me most of the time. Back off people! Can’t control the traffic flow!”

Derek said, “Need to crackdown on slow drivers. They create more dangerous situations than drivers who drive a little over the limit.”

Sharrie said, “Good, because that was all I saw when I was in South Florida last weekend.”

Laura said, “There’s no excuse for tailgating. If there’s a car accident or whatever in front of you but you’re tailgating and don’t have time to brake, you’re getting caught up in it.”

To read more comments, head to The Palm Beach Post’s Facebook page.

 

 

See how much Florida’s minimum wage will rise in 2017

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Florida’s minimum wage will rise to $8.10 an hour in 2017, up from $8.05 in 2015 and 2016, Florida’s labor department said Friday.

In a constitutional amendment, Florida voters approved a state minimum wage that’s typically more generous than the federal minimum. That higher wage took effect in 2005.

The union SEIU Florida panned the raise as “trivial” and renewed its call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.